1. On November 14, 2014, the Star reported that a police officer had raped a woman who had gone to the police station to report that she had been sexually assaulted:
When she went for the P3 [the official form used to report sexual assault], the police officer handling her case told her to wait for him in the waiting area until 2pm. He said he first had to handle an emergency.
At 2pm the officer told her to follow him to his house in the police line “where he claimed he kept the P3 forms”. The police station and lines are in the same compound.
He locked her inside his house, which she could not escape, and left.
At 1am on Wednesday, he returned and raped her repeatedly.
“He undressed me, raped me three times and threatened me, saying if I argue, resist or expose him, I would know he is a police officer,” the woman said.
2. In mid-July 2014, Kenya’s Independent Policing Oversight Authority released MONITORING REPORT ON OPERATION SANITIZATION EASTLEIGH PUBLICALLY KNOWN AS “USALAMA WATCH”, a report that criticized police misconduct. As noted in the report,
As the Operation got underway, there emerged widespread media reports of alleged ethnic profiling of certain ethnic groups, as well as unlawful detention and deportations carried out by the Police. In addition, there was criticism from a section of the public who were concerned that the operation had infringed on their fundamental human rights and that to a larger extent, it had been skewed towards specific segments of the society. The Operation was further marred by widespread allegations of corruption where members of the public were allegedly forced to part with bribes to avoid being arrested and/ or detained in unclear circumstances; arbitrary arrests, harassment, assault, unlawful detentions and deportation of individuals.
3. As documented in the Report of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, Kenya’s police and military evidence that Kenya has never been post-colonial:
The commission finds that state security agencies, particularly the Kenya Police and the Kenyan Army, have been the main perpetrators of bodily integrity violations of human rights in Kenya including massacres, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment, and sexual violence.
One need not read history books to encounter colonial-era violence. One need simply engage with Kenya’s state security agencies to experience “how it was,” how it still is.
We rarely know the names of those police who routinely rape, harass, torture, and kill Kenyans. Most often, the police rape, harass, torture, and kill Kenyans considered disposable: the poor, the unemployed, border population minorities, Somalis (who are unique among border population minorities), and the vulnerable (and it’s so easy to be/come vulnerable in Kenya).
Terrorized by state security agencies, we rarely have the presence of mind to ask for names or badge numbers, the time to register complaints about police misconduct, the faith to believe that registering complaints might matter.
In a very real sense, we have no Darren Wilsons. Every cop is Darren Wilson. Or can be.
We have no Darren Wilsons because we have no suspected criminals. Or, to be more precise, we have no suspected gangsters. A shoot-to-kill policing strategy means that every newspaper report featuring suspected gangsters inevitably includes the phrase “gunned down.”
We have no Darren Wilsons because we have no systems that believe those raped, tortured, harassed, and killed by the police are not disposable.
We have no Darren Wilsons because the police consist of Inspector General Kimaiyo and those under him: a mass of violence-spreading people who inspire fear.
And so, sometimes, when Kenyans write about Darren Wilson in Missouri, we’re trying to name all those uniformed bodies who rape, harass, torture, and kill, all those whose faces we can’t see, whose names we never know.
And, sometimes, when Kenyans get angry about Darren Wilson in Missouri, we’re trying to work up the courage to look at our own Darren Wilsons, to learn their names, to attempt to hold them accountable.
And, sometimes, when Kenyans “condemn” Darren Wilson (“condemn” is a peculiar Kenyan vernacular), we’re listening to cries across space, our bones are troubled, our spirits restless, our hearts heavy.
And, sometimes, when Kenyans condemn Darren Wilson, we’re trying to say we hear you, we feel with you, we believe with you.
And, sometimes, when Kenyans condemn Darren Wilson, we’re looking away from our own fucked up situation, unable to “name and shame” or identify and critique our friends, our families, our intimates.
Darren Wilson is a name foreign enough, a body distant enough, for us to name the possibilities of our killability. The casual ways guns appear at the most banal moments. The stories we tell of “lucky” escapes.
From here, the banality of anti-blackness and white supremacy exist in structural ways that are, sometimes, #notasbadas: one accepts the casual racism of North American and European funders; one attends parties with cultural consumers who outline their theories of Africans; one watches brave, beautiful, courageous activists shuffle and mumble to get white money; and even the most liberal minded whites soon learn the privileges their skin affords, and inhabit it. And one wants to be called cultured or cosmopolitan or affable—one keeps quiet, drinks too much, says, “fuck off, Darren Wilson,” because one cannot piss off those one needs.
But we also struggle: to know Darren Wilson’s name, from here, when Kimaiyo’s name remains unknown out there; to mourn for Mike Brown from here, when Anita Osebe Moi remains unmourned out there; we wonder about the affective work of being together, about a U.S. so wounded, so damaged, so dangerous that we feel to ask that it share in our mourning would be selfish.
We learn to feel across borders—into the many spaces where our bodies move: India, Germany, China, Canada, England, the U.S., Sweden, Japan, South Africa. Our emotional lives stretch, our identifications become more elastic than we had ever imagined possible. At times, we whisper stories of harm, of damage, of loss, of the unbearable burden of splitting in and across time, of being cut in and through space. At times we remain silent, hoarding stories, storing hurt, refusing to compound the pain already caused by separation.
We insist that we will stay here—in this place looking for ways to kill us. We insist that it will not chase us away. That we will not let those who cannot imagine us as possible compel us to imagine ourselves as impossible.
We learn the names we can say. Curse those we can. Figure out, every day, how to be possible.